This discipline involves the examination of tissue removed from patients to determine the presence or absence of abnormalities, to make a tissue diagnosis and assess completeness of excision. For example, a patient may notice a pigmented lesion, an ulcer or lump in the skin, or find blood in the urine or experience a change in bowel habit. These symptoms will prompt a number of investigations that may or may not involve sending tissue to the histopathology laboratory for analysis, to rule out or confirm a cancer or other abnormalities.
When received in the laboratory, these samples will undergo a number of quality-controlled processes that include:
- Confirming that the patient’s ID and the requesting doctor’s ID are on the specimen
- Ensure that samples are made ready as soon as possible for overnight or rapid processing
- Ensure that cutting and staining of microscope slides are of a high standard for presentation to the histopathologist.
- The histopathologist examines these sections and may in some cases request additional technical work, such as special stains or immunohistochemical stains to determine the nature of the abnormality, if any exist.
- In breast cancer, hormonal receptors (ER, PR and HER-2) will also be assessed and reported.
- The histopathologist may also discuss the results with your doctor before or after issuing the report, as clinically appropriate. Our histopathologists also participate in a number of multidisciplinary meetings in a number of hospitals to correlate the results with other tests (e.g. x-rays or scans) and to discuss further management of the patient.